Tuesday, May 21
We are opening our 2019 International Conference on Interpretation, which is focused on “Acting Locally, Connecting Globally,” with a topic that unites the western hemisphere. Long before its colonization, this land was home to millions of indigenous people. The rivers, animals, and spaces had local names and meaning long before Europeans changed the names to represent words in their own image. These people, indigenous to the Americas, are still with us today. And when we act locally and connect globally, it is today as important as ever to ensure that interpreters have the opportunity to learn from people who have the longest and deepest connection to the lands. Indigenous voices have transferred stories from generation to generation for millennia. In fact, it is perhaps through the time-tested tradition of oral storytelling by indigenous people of the world that the profession of interpretation was born.
We will hear from our speakers about:
- The role and importance of storytelling to transmit knowledge, ideas, meaning, and connections.
- The opportunity and importance of connecting visitors today with indigenous interpreters and storytellers to learn the true meaning of place.
- Ideas for how we can be better at involving indigenous communities in telling these important stories as the indigenous voice is still well represented in public lands, historical sites, etc.
Presenter: Michael Catches Enemy
Michael Catches Enemy is Lakota, originating from the sacred Black Hills of Turtle Island. Michael has a life time teachings of family and elders and life experiences as a Lakota. He also obtained western education, and is currently a master’s degree candidate in Cultural Resource Management & Archaeology at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He also earned a bachelor of science degree in 2003 in environmental science, with an emphasis in Conservation Biology from Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota. He has twice served as director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Natural Resources Regulatory Agency. He is the proud owner of Catches Enemy Consulting, through which he serves as an environmental/archaeological consultant. From 2013 to 2015, he served as the tribal historic preservation officer/director for the Oglala Sioux Tribe before transferring over in 2015 to be the first-ever tribal archaeologist for the Oglala Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Office. He is currently serving as the cultural liaison to the Tribal President Julian Bear Runner of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, 2018-2020 Administration.
Mike Catches Enemy’s identity is tied to a life time of teaching from family, elders, and life experiences as a Lakota on the homelands of his ancestors. His discussion will hit on a variety of topics, such as the prior proposed Oglala Sioux Tribe / National Park Service – Tribal National Park in the Badlands and his experiences with Tribal and federal governmental entities with the Tribal communities. His real passion is protecting Lakota collective intellectual property as it links to “traditional and naturally significant places,” while preserving cultural resources and prehistoric sites. Coming from a place of personal recovery from destructive and oppressive historical trauma, his life for the past 26 years has been dedicated to bringing back traditional values to Lakota youth by practicing the ancient Lakota way of life with them in this modern world.
Brazilian Indigenous Representative
In addition to the opening address by Mike Catches Enemy, we will also hear from a representative from an indigenous community from the Brazilian Amazon.
Keynote: Tom Medema
Friday, May 24
Abundance vs. Scarcity in the Life of the Interpreter
Interpreters are some of the most passionate and optimistic people in the world. Yet too often it seems we operate professionally from a scarcity mindset, even though we tend to be optimists by nature—not enough staff, not enough funding, not enough space, too little support from management, lack of alignment with political leadership, and so on. When viewed through the lens of scarcity the world becomes a darker place and our ability to contribute to improving it diminishes. As interpreters of many of the world’s most special places and stories, what we have in actuality is an abundance of opportunity as well as responsibility. Perhaps most importantly, we have an unequaled abundance of opportunity to lead societal change through dialogue, change that can protect and preserve our worlds natural and cultural heritage for generations to come. As we close this international gathering together, let us leave with optimism, and an abundance of hope for a future—that we together, as interpreters from around the globe, can help create and shape with our passion and dedication!
Tom Medema, Acting Associate Director for Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers for the National Park Service